Straight from the farm to my belly: FIG Santa Monica

I had been meaning to try FIG Restaurant in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica since it opened early last year, so when I was invited to dinner there, I jumped at the chance. The restaurant’s seasonal, farm-to-table concept sounded good — how could a place that places its emphasis on fresh local ingredients not sound good? The good news is this philosophy isn’t just lip service: Chef Ray Garcia knows his ingredients, and his kitchen can really cook.

The meal started out on the right foot with mini baguettes served with arugula butter, something I had never seen or heard of before. It was light and flavorful — I kind of wanted to take a spoon to it and eat it straight out of the container.

Arugula butter topped with cracked black pepper and sea salt

If you like cheese and charcuterie, I highly recommend getting the charcuterie sampling ($25) and Eric’s Stash ($25) cheese plates. They’re not cheap, for sure, but they’re worth every penny. The selections were well-balanced and complementary to each other.

Charcuterie sampling and Eric's Stash cheese plates

This is where the cheese comes from -- the bar.

The corn-stuffed squash blossoms, relatively new to the menu, were also a nice way to start off the meal. Though the flowers were breaded and fried, the overall effect wasn’t as heavy as their appearance may lead you to think. The sauce was also surprisingly light yet creamy.

Corn stuffed squash flowers

The cocktail menu also follows the farm-fresh philosophy, and it pays off here, especially in the Blackberry & Sage made with Mitcher’s bourbon, muddled blackberries, green chartreuse, crème de cassis, fresh lime juice and fresh sage.

Blackberry & Sage

The appetizers at Fig are strong, including the Pacific mussels, the grilled artichoke with Meyer lemon aioli, and — my favorite — the snap peas with mint and parsley. The artichoke was grilled to perfection, and the mussels cooked in Chablis wine and tarragon served with a grilled baguette could easily and happily feed two to three people. But the fresh snap peas, still delightfully crisp, were a revelation, considering how simply they were prepared.

Pacific mussels

Snap peas

The standout main dish for me was the carrot pappardelle with braised rabbit, peas and mint. Actually the description is a little misleading as I thought the pasta was made with carrot, but really the carrots are just another component in the dish. No matter; this was amazing, especially with a rich sauce made from chicken and rabbit broth.

Carrot pappardelle

Another dish that I enjoyed was the short rib and pancetta meatloaf served with mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli di cecco. After the very disappointing meatloaf I had a week before this meal, this hearty dish was more than welcome. It stuck to the basics and didn’t try to do too much in reinventing the dish.

Short rib meatloaf

The weakest part of the meal was dessert. Though nothing was bad, most of what we tried that night tasted either too rich or not rich enough. However, there was one item that hit the spot: the chocolate pot au crème. This chocolate custard is not too thick or heavy and has just enough of the chocolate flavor to satisfy.

Chocolate pot au crème

Note: This meal was hosted.

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Maya Meinert

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06 2010

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    I don’t even like meatloaf, and I love that meatloaf. I paid for mine. 🙂

  2. Maya Meinert #

    I would totally go back on my own dime. This place is top-notch.